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Times of Temptation

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Lay In for Bad Times

Times of Temptation}

Times of temptation are spending times and they call for great supporting resources to be laid in against such seasons. There are two reasons for this.

Reason: Temptations Are Certain to Come

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Lay In for Bad Times

Times of Temptation

Reason: Temptations Are Certain to Come}

Times of temptation are certain to come to believers. “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates” (Psalm 11:5 NASB). There is no such thing as a gracious soul whom the Lord does not try at some time or another. It may be directly by His Spirit or indirectly by afflictions or temptations, and from people or demons. The apostle tells us that every person is tempted. “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14 ESV). Capell, on temptation, said, “The best of men are tempted and that when they are at their best.” Adam was tempted in paradise (Genesis 3:6),1511 Solomon after God had appeared to him twice (1 Kings 11:9),1512 Job after the evidence of his uprightness before God and his holy duties (Job 1:1, 5),1513 and Peter, after he had confessed Christ and entered into covenant to never abandon Christ (Matthew 26:33).1514 Yes, even Christ Himself was tempted after His baptism, the Spirit resting on Him as a dove, and the Father’s acknowledgment of Him by an audible voice from Heaven (Matthew 3:17, 4:1).1515 Capell said, “He who thinks he is so good that he ought not be tempted, or so strong that he need not fear being tempted—he has need of temptation so that by experience in his own person he might learn what he ought to have seen in the Word: of ourselves, we have no strength.”

Four things make temptations unavoidable to gracious souls:

  1. God’s good pleasure;

  2. Satan’s rage;

  3. The saint’s corruption;

  4. The saint’s profit.

First, it is God’s good pleasure to have them tried. “Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:13 NASB). The fire will test the excellence of a person’s work. Thus, the greatness of God’s power is shown in the enduring graces of the saints when they stand after all. By this the Lord will refute the slanders of people and demons who are still accusing His people of hypocrisy and of falling away when a trial comes. “Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’” (Job 1:9 NASB). “However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face” (Job 2:5 NASB). This is the usual malicious accusation of the saints’ enemies; to prove them liars, the Lord allows His people to be tempted. It is His will and purpose that all His people are tempted, and therefore it is unavoidable.

Second, such is Satan’s rage that he cannot keep his fingers from believers for very long. If he leaves them alone, it is only for a season. “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13 ESV). Is Satan busy? Then his work is not done. If you have any rest, it is because his tempting has not come. He is a roaring lion and cannot rest from seeking to devour, though he may delay attempting to devour for a season until he has a greater advantage. Never expect freedom from temptation until Satan’s chain be shortened or you are taken to Heaven out of his reach (Revelation 20:2–3).1516

Third, the saint’s corruptions expose them to temptations. “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (Matthew 24:28 ESV). While the saints have open wounds on their backs, they can expect no freedom from flies. If Samson is bound, the Philistines will be upon him (Judges 16:12).1517 Capell said, “The cause of sins is in us, though the occasion [temptation] is from Satan.” Until the fire of Hell is out in the saints, the devil will not lay down his bellows. Where there is no sin, there is nothing for temptation to work on.1518 When skin is intact and unbroken, it cannot be easily infected. Corruption [in the heart] keeps open the door for Satan. Never look for silence from Satan until you cease from sin.

Fourth, temptation is necessary for the profit and good of gracious souls. By this means they come to see their own vileness; were it not for temptation, they could not see how great is their corruption. David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and Peter did not think their hearts were so abominable until left to temptation, which stirs the mud and brings up the bottom to the top. This helps to abase them and make them more vile in their own eyes. By this also, they see their own weakness and need of Christ. They are more effectually brought out of themselves to the Lord Jesus for succor and victory. Also, temptations from Satan make them more acquainted with his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11),1519 and more skilled against his wiles and strategy. This is no small advantage to one at war with him. By this also, the Lord winnows His saints; by these high winds, God fans and cleanses them.1520 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31 NASB). This conforms them more to their Head, and to greater establishment in grace. Both of these are glorious advantages to believers and are promised in the new covenant. Because of this, temptations are necessary for wisdom’s merchants, and it is thus necessary for them to lay in provision against them.

Reason: Temptations Are Shaking When They Come

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation to Good Traders in Christianity

Advice: Lay In for Bad Times

Times of Temptation

Reason: Temptations Are Shaking When They Come}

Just as temptations are certain to come, so they are shaking when they come. They are part of that rain, flood, and wind that beat on house built on the sand (Matthew 7:27; Luke 6:49).1521 Temptations are part of the devil’s artillery; nobody can bear his fiery darts and cruel buffetings without the whole armor of God on him. And then too, all he can do is just stand firm1522 (Ephesians 6:13–16).1523 This artillery is so potent and overpowering that only those who are in Christ can stand their ground. “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13 NASB). They receive the Word with joy, seem to love God, and delight in His ways for a season. Then temptations come to challenge their commitment and they fall away. Some temptations are easy to overcome, but when Satan sets on a soul with all his might, there is no standing without divine succor and the Lord opening a way to escape. Temptation is reckoned among the most painful of afflictions that the saints undergo (1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:18).1524 “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented” (Hebrews 11:37 NKJV). There is no suffering like temptations because they draw the soul to sin, which is more cruel than death to a soul that loves Christ. Oh, Christian, how much need do we have to be laying up for an hour of temptation, seeing that it will surely come and be so terrible when it comes!1525

Get yourselves well furnished with wisdom that you may know Satan’s devices so that you may be able to distinguish between temptation and corruption1526 and be able to answer the objections and subtle rationalizations of Satan.1527 You must also have experience [in overcoming prior temptations] to encourage your hope and strengthen your patience. Previous instances of [God’s] relief in similar cases may lift up your head and strengthen your expectations in new trials. You must lay up a store of faith to guard your hearts and shield your heads from the fiery darts of Satan. You must get your integrity cleared and get evidence of the uprightness of your heart and way.1528 This is of great use also to bear up your spirit under all the devil’s accusations against you. Make much of every influence from His Spirit in you and take care not to quench any of His promptings. Someone said that, “God often leaves us to acknowledge Satan’s suggestions for our own because we do not acknowledge God in His holy promptings and influences.” Also, have good evidence of your portion in Christ, assurance of His love to you, and assurance of His help in time of need. Take special care to have your corruptions weakened and sin in your souls increasingly mortified. By these means, when Satan comes, he may find nothing in you on which to fasten his temptation. This calls for your prudent care, to lay in store to your souls against times of trial.

1511When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6 NASB).

1512Now the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice” (1 Kings 11:9 NASB).

15131There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil…. 5When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, ‘Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually” (Job 1:1, 5 NASB).

1514But Peter said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away’” (Matthew 26:33 NASB).

1515And behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:17 NASB). “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1 NASB).

1516And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time” (Revelation 20:2–3 NASB).

1517Therefore Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ And men were lying in wait, staying in the room. But he broke them off his arms like a thread” (Judges 16:12 NKJV).

1518The editor must, in part, disagree with these last two sentences. The God-Man, Christ, had no sin, yet was, as fully man, actually tempted and able to fall. But it is true that sinful desires in the heart—and all offspring of Adam have them—are as cracks in logs into which the devil inserts, then drives his foul wedges. This is just one more reason to mortify sinful desires deep in our hearts.

1519“…lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV).

1520The reference is to using moving air to blow the very light chaff away from threshed wheat.

1521The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall” (Matthew 7:27 NASB). “But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:49 NASB).

1522To stand firm is not merely to stand upright, but to not give ground or territory to the enemy or compromise with evil.

1523Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:13–16 ESV).

1524No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB). “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18 NASB).

1525Those in Christ will be aware that they are not merely tempted, but sin daily and must repent of various sins daily. These sins are not in Ashwood’s view. Ashwood has in view serious sin, sin of the kind that has serious or lasting consequences and which sin also becomes an investment to be protected. David’s sin with Bathsheba is an example. To defend his sin, David murdered Uriah. David thus had to endure God’s declared judgment: “‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun’” (2 Samuel 12:10–12 NASB). More than that, a careful reading of David’s life and affairs shows that this sin weakened his administration of justice and the kingdom. Sadly, some will not repent, but protect their investment in their sin all the way to Hell.

1526To this editor, what Ashwood means by “distinguish between temptation and corruption” is not entirely clear. There are three things in view here. First, there is sin. Second, our sin nature (original sin), is itself sin and a fruitful source of actual sins of thought, word, and action. This may be what Ashwood means by corruption, the sinfulness of our hearts deep down inside, sinful desires, lack of holy desires, and so on. Third, there is temptation. “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14 ESV). Some of these desires to which James refers are corrupt, sinful desires originating from our sinful hearts. Other desires are not sinful, but the devil uses these to tempt us to satisfy them by sinful means. In the first case, when we sin, we must repent not only of the actual sin, but of the heart corruption that tempted us to it. In the second case, we must not be plagued with guilt because of the devil’s work of temptation from outside of us if we do not give in to that temptation. “So He said to them, ‘Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated,’ thus purifying all foods? And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man’” (Mark 7:18–20 NKJV).

1527This editor wishes to take the liberty to recommend Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks, a Puritan author. Many editions and translations to contemporary English are available.

1528Obviously, this can only be achieved by genuine repentance of all known sin, not cherishing any known sin, searching one’s heart, and keeping a clear conscience. These are evidence of possessing the imputed righteousness of Christ.

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